How to reduce the effects of jet lag
Do you love travelling but the prospect of jet lag puts a damper on your travel ambitions? Here are a few ideas to help alleviate the effects of crossing time zones and make you want to take off again.
In the run up to leaving
The symptoms of jet lag will be more bearable if you maintain a healthy lifestyle. Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet and make sure you follow good sleep practices.
Some people stress before a trip. If you’re one of them, focus on what is essential and put aside the things that can wait. Try meditation, the anti-stress technique par excellence according to those who practise it.
Acclimatize yourself to the time zone at your destination a few days before you’re due to leave:
Change the time you eat. If you’re travelling east, eat later. Heading west, then eat earlier.
If possible, do the same thing when it comes to bedtime.
Setting your watch to the hour of the place you’re going can also help.
Eat carbohydrates, such as pasta, the day before you leave. Carbohydrates provide the brain with the substance that produces serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes sleep.
Up, up and away!
Leave earlier. If your meeting is on Monday, fly out on Saturday. Your biological clock will have had a little more time to synchronize with the local time at your destination.
Select a seat where you have more room to stretch your legs to counter the production of substances related to adrenalin. These make it difficult to nod off and, even once we’re asleep, they can inhibit restful sleep.
Once aboard the plane, ask the cabin crew if you can change seat if there is a free seat that seems more comfortable.
During the flight
Try to sleep or rest for a few hours:
- Take a sleep mask and ear plugs with you to reduce light and noise, as well as a light blanket and small travel pillow for extra comfort.
- Turn up the fan for a fresher (but not freezing!) sleeping temperature; a lower body temperature will send a signal to your brain that it’s time to sleep.
Drink a lot of water. Staying well hydrated is essential for combatting jet lag. Skip the alcohol, coffee and caffeinated drinks.
Once you’re there
Eat a meal rich in protein to stave off daytime doziness.
Physical exercise each day will help induce sleep at night, but don’t exercise just before going to bed.
Impossible to fight a wave of sleepiness? A short nap of about twenty minutes can recharge the batteries.
At bedtime, make sure the bedroom is cool and adequately darkened.
You’ll barely notice you’ve shifted time zones with these few tips. The more you travel, the more you will come up with your own anti-jet lag tricks that will help you make the most of each trip.